A young man who suffered a sickle cell crisis called 999 while he was in hospital because nurses refused him oxygen, an inquest has heard.
He was suffering from sepsis after a procedure to remove a gallbladder stent.
Barnet Coroner’s Court heard he might have survived if he had been offered a blood transfusion sooner.
But the haematology team were not notified that Mr Smith had been admitted, the inquest was told.
Sickle cell disease – is a condition which affects the red blood cells and is common among people of African and Caribbean heritage – oxygen is routinely used to treat low blood oxygen saturation.
On 23 April, nursing staff had told Mr Smith he did not require oxygen when he requested it, the court heard
The 21-year-old decided to call the London Ambulance Service because he felt it was the only way to get help, the inquest was told.
Mr Smith was being kept in a “lodger” bed – a bed added to a ward for extra capacity – which did not have access to oxygen or a call bell.
When he was seen later by a haematologist, was prescribed oxygen but was already in the early stages of sickle cell crisis. He suffered a series of cardiac arrests and later died.
Dr Arne De Kreuk had previously treated Mr Smith and was not informed of his patient’s return in the hospital until the evening two days after his admission on 20 April.
“With sickle cell disorder, time does matter,” Dr De Kreuk said.
Martin Forde QC, for Mr Smith’s family, asked if there was any evidence to suggest complaints of pain might have been ignored because of his ethnic background.
“I’m very aware of this issue – especially in patients presenting at A&E when pain is not always taken seriously, but I’m not aware of any evidence in Mr Smith’s case that this was an issue,” Dr De Kreuk said.
A pathologist found his cause of death to be multiple organ dysfunction and cerebral infarction.
Evan Nathan Smith ‘would not have died if hospital nedical staff had recognised sickle cell disease’
Despite the omissions of medical staff, the coroner did not make a finding of neglect.
Barnet coroner’s court heard that since Smith’s death, North Middlesex hospital now has a dedicated ward for sickle cell patients, and that staff in the wider hospital setting are receiving extra training.
Smith’s parents, Charles and Betty Smith, were present throughout the inquest. In a statement, Charles Smith said they were struggling with the loss of their only child.
“The death of someone you love is always sad, but the tragic way in which Evan died is something we will live with for the rest of our lives,” he said.